25.01.2015, 07:24
Europe dominating World Championship

ROUND REVIEW: 11 out of 15 European teams made it among the last 16 of the 24th Men's World Championship in Qatar


Europe dominating World Championship

Despite playing outside Europe, the European teams have been dominating the World Championship in Qatar so far.

11 out of the 15 European teams among the 24 participants are on from the group phase, which obviously also means that 11 out of the 16 teams in the knockout stage are from Europe,

All four groups in the preliminary round were won by European teams, and three of the groups also had European teams in second and third position.
Only in Group A did the hosts from Qatar manage to squeeze in between group winners Spain and third-placed Slovenia to snap the second position.

In Group A, reigning world champions Spain went through as undefeated group winners, but not without a bit of trouble along the way.

A surprisingly narrow 29:27 win against Brazil was the smallest victory, while they were hanging behind for large parts of the top game in the group against Qatar, before finally turning the game into a 28:25 win.

Slovenia became the victims of Qatar's first win against a European team ever in a competitive match, as the Qataris defeated the Slovenians 31:29.

A 30:26 defeat to Spain then sent Slovenia down to third position, Brazil finishing fourth with Belarus as the only European team not making it to the next round from this group.

In Group B, Croatia were just as clear winners as Spain were in Group A, not losing a single point along the way.

Apart from their 41:22 win against Iran, the Croatians only took relatively narrow wins, but still it was enough.

FYR Macedonia came in second, a 29:26 defeat to Croatia being their only loss of points in their five games.

Austria finished third after defeats to the two top teams and a draw against Tunisia who beat the last European team in the group, Bosnia and Herzegovina to take the fourth position and the last knockout berth.

In Group C, European champions France lived up to their status as favourites and won the group, but not without certain difficulties.

A 26:26 draw against Iceland, who were leading for large parts of the match cost them their only point, but Les Bleus also had to struggle in the final match for the group win, where Sweden were leading most of the time, before an impressive French comeback secured a French 27:25 win.

Sweden and Iceland came in second and third with Egypt in fourth position, and with the Czech Republic being the only European team who did not make it any further than to the consolation tournament President's Cup.

In Group D, Denmark were seen as favourites, but an inconsistent start made their group phase campaign somewhat troublesome for the silver medalists from 2011 and 2013.

A sensational 24:24 draw in their opening match against Argentina and 30:30 against Germany in their third match cost the Danes the group win which went to Germany instead, while Denmark took the second place after defeating Poland 31:27 in their last match.

Poland finished third, while Argentina beat Russia to the last Last 16 spot through a 30:27 in the two teams' direct duel for the fourth place.

Three all-European matches in the Last 16

Three of the eight matches in the Last 16 will be entirely European. That goes for the all Nordic meeting between Iceland and Denmark, the Balkan battle between Slovenia and FYR Macedonia and finally the match between Poland and Sweden.

Last 16 schedule - all times CET:

Sunday, 25 January:
16.30 Austria vs Qatar and Slovenia vs FYR Macedonia
19.00 Spain vs Tunisia and Croatia vs Brazil

Monday, 26 January:
16.30 Germany vs Egypt and Poland vs Sweden
19.00 Iceland vs Denmark and France vs Argentina

Photo: Qatar Handball 2015

TEXT: Peter Bruun / br


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